Published March 02, 2011
There are many things I admire. Skills and talents possessed by others that I could only dream of having. But beyond the impossible dream of hitting a game-winning home run, there is one skill so many of us have -- and it is this ability that I admire the most. Feel free to quote me; the greatest skill is the ability to take an idea from one's mind and make it real with one's hands so that others can see it, consider it and/or use it.
A great sculpture, piece of furniture, an amazing book or a 300 yard drive all start as ideas and through an infinite number of possible actions people make them real. I particularly envy people who make things for others to use. Watching a carpenter turn lumber into a desk is, for me, like a magic trick.
So it was with great interest that I stepped into the BIM room for Tower 2 of the new World Trade Center. BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and you won’t find a hammer or wrench here, but you can be sure it is involved in a vital part of the building process.
Serge Demerjian is a Development Manager for Silverstein Properties, the company building Tower 2.
"This is where the trades come together and work all the mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, electrical systems to make sure that they all fit within the space of the building that's been designed," he said.
Before the BIM process, a building has been designed and put on paper. BIM then creates a precise computer animated 3D model of how every part in the building will fit together. The goal? Make sure it will.
Demerjian remembers how it once was, “in the paper and pencil era you would draw it and then everyone would get in a room and say, 'No, no this doesn't fit, move it to the left.' And somebody would go out there with an eraser and redraw it.”
Computers have changed everything, Demerjian said.
“Here you tell the computer move it three inches to the right and it's done. It's certainly more efficient."
It might help to think of your body as a skyscraper, maybe you already do. Your veins and arteries deliver all of your body’s nutrients. In a high-rise building, pipes and conduits supply water and electricity to help keep the building running. But as you can see from the photos on this page, there are a lot of these systems, they are all color coded, and getting them to fit together calls for another analogy. A tasty one at that.
Remember the commercials for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?
“My chocolate is in your peanut butter and your peanut butter is in my chocolate,” Demerjian said. “That kind of negotiation takes place, hopefully it's minor and in the end everything fits."
The commercial says they are "two great tastes that taste great together." In building, two great things that come together are hot and cold water at every sink, in every bathroom, in a building that will have almost 80 floors.
All this work in the virtual world is also used to organize the actual construction in the real world. If pipes for hot water are located above a sprinkler system, the hot water pipes need to go in first.
"Who is on top, who’s next, who’s in the middle, who’s lowest,” Demerjian said.
All things he sees are considered in the BIM room.
“They have to work out that sequence of installation so they don't block each other out or box each other out, as we say," Demerjian added.
All this planning comes to fruition when you see a crew of steam fitters cutting steel or putting pipes into place. An idea has become a plan. The plan has been scrutinized and put to test in the 3D reality of the BIM room and now it’s there right before our eyes. Maybe I’m naïve, but I find it amazing.
Serge Demerjian agrees.
“Creating something from nothing and then eventually having it exist," he said. "And to know that you were part of that process. And to know it came out of a collaborative effort across many different people. Watching it come to life is the fun part. It’s the reward.”
To see the latest segment in the Rise of Freedom series tune into Fox Report with Shepard Smith, tonight at 7 p.m. ET. You can also watch a BIM animation or catch up on all our segments by going to www.foxnews.com/freedom. To learn even more about the work and progress you can also visit these sites: www.wtc.com, www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress and www.national911memorial.org.